Barcelona have been looking like a shadow of their former selves of late. They were ineffective until very late on at Levante, lost to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and then, most damaging of all, were defeated 2-1 at home by Real Madrid in a mach that they never seriously looked like winning. Since Pep Guardiola took over, Barcelona have been champions of Spain, but that run has come to a crushing end with last weekend's loss to Los Blancos.
Are they shy of confidence? Obviously, watching from afar, it's impossible to tell, but it certainly wouldn't be out of the question. At their best, Barcelona are phenomenal, ripping defences apart at will. Recently? They're a possession-retention machine that looks frankly stodgy whenever it attempts to go forwards. Something is wrong. Over at Barca Blaugranes, Gabriel Roberts is attributing that something to a lack of swagger, which seems as good a word as any:
Whoever gets the nod from Guardiola, they must play with confidence. Barcelona must come out believing in their superiority, and each player must receive and distribute the ball with the decisive and stylish touch we've come to expect from a colossal match at the Nou Camp. I've written before about the Camp Nou swagger—how an electric energy can build between these fabulous little footballers on their extra-wide pitch and in front of their 90,000 fans. Each successive successful pass contributes to this energy, and in time it can build to a methodical, mesmerizing demolition of the opponent.
If Barcelona play at their peak, there's nothing Chelsea can do to stop the hosts from going through. But recapturing that swagger after a very rough week will be a very tough ask for Pep Guardiola and his tired players.